Ecology and Emergency Situations Minister Chyrmashev, speaking on 16 April at an international conference on the monitoring and renovation of Kyrgyzstan's nuclear-waste storage facilities, drew attention to the potential environmental dangers posed to large areas of Central Asia by his country's deteriorating radioactive-waste dumps, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service, akipress.org, and Interfax reported. The conference was sponsored jointly by the OSCE -- which is increasing its activity in the economic and environmental spheres -- and the Kyrgyz government. Experts from the United States, Russia, Central Asian and European countries, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the World Bank were taking part. Although the dangers posed to the Ferghana Valley and potentially to half of Central Asia's water resources by the radioactive waste dumps at Maily-Suu has been reported in the international media for a number of years, Chyrmashev reminded conference participants that much needs to be done to secure the 23 sites around the town. Some of these are situated beside a stream that is a tributary of the Syr-Darya River, and the valley is subject to earthquakes and landslides. Chyrmashev was quoted as saying that $40 million to $50 million is needed to clean up Maily-Suu alone, and Kyrgyzstan cannot finance the work urgently needed throughout the country. Opening the conference, Kyrgyz Prime Minister Nikolai Tanaev said that priority should be given to Maily-Suu because the effects of an accident there would be the most catastrophic.
Eurasianet, April 17, 2003